Longtime East Rockaway resident and former firefighter Richard C. “Dick” Boll died peacefully on May 17, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 78.
Boll was born on Jan. 25, 1938, in Brooklyn, the son of Martin and Dorothy Boll. He moved to East Rockaway with his family in early childhood. He met his future wife, Elaine, at East Rockaway High School: He graduated in 1955, and she graduated the following year. They were married in 1959.
“To know Dick Boll was to love him,” said Elaine. “He was always willing to help a friend or anyone in need. So many people have memories of how he helped them, or the kind conversations he had with them — even when no one else would. There is not a day that his family was not in his heart, and he will forever be in ours.”
Boll was a member of the East Rockaway Fire Department for more than 50 years, and was eventually named an honorary chief.
He retired from the New York City Fire Department, Engine Company 328, and for many years he also owned a local tree business. Many people knew him simply as Dick, the tree man. As much as he loved being a fireman, he loved taking down trees.
“My father was a fireman,” said Brian Boll, who was also a firefighter. “He knew his job well and how to get things done in a fire. One time a friend told me that while in a fire, [my father] pulled him against the wall moments before the ceiling came down. Afterward, he took the time to share what he saw and heard before the collapse with his fellow firefighters. [He was] a true leader.”
“One of the proudest moments of my life was to walk across the stage, being the third generation to enter the FDNY family,” said his grandson, Chris, Brian’s son, referring to his graduation from the FDNY EMS academy in March. “And as I was given my plaque, I looked into the crowd and saw the biggest smile on my grandfather’s face. After the ceremony, I walked over to him, and his smile only grew bigger as he extended his hand to mine. ‘Congratulations,’ he said to me. ‘Welcome to the family business.’”
Boll spent most of his retirement as he did his life, surrounded by family and friends. In upstate Bethel, he enjoyed the outdoors and the fellowship of his friends in the Cherokee Preserve Club. He spent winters in Boynton Beach, Fla., with his friends from Colonial Estates. Most of all, he loved being “Pop-Pop” to his grandchildren.
“He taught us that hard work always pays off,” said his grandson Mathew, Chris’s twin brother, “and that it never hurts to lend a helping hand. He taught us the importance of taking what you need and leaving what you don’t, and also the importance of preparation. Most of all, he taught us the importance of family.”
On April 30, just three weeks before he died, Boll attend the Cherokee Preserve Club’s spring meeting, at which his grandson Daniel was elected a member, making him the fourth generation of Bolls to join the club.
Boll is survived by Elaine, his wife of 56 years; his children, Richard and his wife, Mary; Brian and his wife, Robin; and Karen Dooling and her husband, Michael; and his grandchildren Daniel, Mathew, Christopher, Patrick, Lauren, Kate, Mae and Jack. He is also survived by a brother, Stephen, and nieces and nephew.
A Fire Department service was held on May 20, and members of the East Rockaway and New York City departments attended. A religious service was held on May 21, conducted by the Rev. Thomas Moriarity. Both services were at Perry’s Funeral Home in Lynbrook.
In lieu of flowers, his family requested that memorial donations be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, at www.mskcc.org, or to the New York Firefighters Burn Center, at www.nyffburncenter.com.